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The Rachel Maddow Show

News/Business. (2012)

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U.s. 11, Bork 7, Benghazi 6, Us 6, Biden 5, Robert Bork 5, Washington 5, Susan Rice 4, America 4, Feinstein 4, United States 3, Clinton 3, California 3, New Jersey 3, Bob 3, Warfarin 3, Ronald Reagan 2, Mike Mullen 2, Joe Biden 2, Nbc 2,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2012)  

    December 20, 2012
    1:00 - 2:00am PST  

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we're living now in the age of obama, which is a new kind of american open heartedness, the bringing in of latinos, guy marriage, marijuana even. and a lot of the progressive programs of the '60s he has been able to maintain. >> would you parallel him to abraham lincoln? that. >> is the president. i know a group of historians, we visited with him in the white house. he loves lincoln. he can't get enough of abraham lincoln. doris kerns goodwin is his favorite historian. and he is very lincolnesque in the sense he is very good with words. and that "time" article points out he writes a lot. he came to the white house as a writer. i think he is also a great constitutional lawyer. and lincoln was too. >> professor brinkley, great to have you with us tonight. thank you so much. that is "ed show." i'm ed schultz. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. it was july 23rd, 2007. it was one of the debates where the moderator does not ask the questions.
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instead they have the questions submitted by different people all around the country via youtube. at that debate in july 2007, there was the greatest surprise visual review from any questioner in any debate thus far, or since. >> good evening, america. my name is jered townsend from michigan. to all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control as myself and other americans really want to know if our babies are safe. this is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. please tell me your views. thank you. >> senator biden, are you going to be able to keep his baby safe? >> i tell you what, if that's his baby, he needs help. [ applause ] i think he just made an admission against self-interest.
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i don't know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. i'm being serious. look, this idea, we go around talking about people who own -- i'm the guy that originally wrote the assault weapons ban. look, we should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure that we protect people against people who don't -- are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun. >> time. >> because they're either mentally unbalanced and/or because they have a criminal record. >> time. >> anyway. >> we got one more question. >> i hope he doesn't come looking for me. >> that was july of 2007. joe biden was running for president at the time. you know, that famous quote from the conservative activist grover norquist about how his goal is to shrink government down to the size where he can drown it in a bathtub. that famously is grover norquist's attitude about all of government, right. makes it sort of remarkable that anybody would even think he might be a relevant player in stuff like the negotiations over taxes and spending and deficit
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reduction that are happening right now between the white house and congressional republicans. really, we have to consult the guy who wants to drown the government? but talking that way about government, talking about killing the government in a bathtub is not designed to make you a mainstream appealing figure. it's designed to make you a hero on the right. it's the type of conservatism that sees itself as insurgent. it's them against the government. they like to see themselves as outsiders who are only in washington because they want to destroy washington. so mostly when you hear rhetoric like that from the right, it is ideological posturing. if it were a real governing philosophy of the republican party, the government would not always get larger under republican presidents the way it does. but there is one part of government where that sort of attitude, the get it down to the size where you can drown it in the bathtub attitude is not just empty right-ring branding and hyperbole. there is one part of governance at the federal level where the conservative movement has actually succeeded in making government small enough to drown it in the bathroom at home that part of governance still
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technically exists, but they have hollowed it out and sucked the life out of it. they have made so it weak, it cannot properly function, and nobody expects it to. and you can tell what part of governance they have done this to with one simple test. find any other federal agency in the united states government when on the day that the president of the united states at a live nationally televised on all the networks news conference, when the president talks about a personnel matter at that specific agency and names the agency explicitly, the president says it himself, on tv that day, find me any other federal agency where on that day you call that agency for comment on that day before the close of business at 5:00 p.m., and they tell you, actually, there is nobody here to -- there is nobody here to help you there is nobody around to answer any of your questions. we might want to try transfers you to one of our west coast offices because the time difference, it's earlier there maybe there is somebody still -- i understand it's the holiday
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season, sort of. but the atf, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives is so underresourced and understaffed, it is so atrophied from being politically undermined for so many years that today when the president of the united states said it might be nice to put somebody in charge of that agency officially for the first time in six years, there was nobody home at that agency to comment on that. nobody available this afternoon to handle press inquiries about that rather high profile presidential assertion. if you make a product that is regulated by the government for health and safety reasons in this country, it is understandable that you'll resent that, right? that your industry, whatever it is, won't like your regulators. you would rather that part of the government that regulates you just go away. nobody wants to have to deal with somebody telling you what you can do and can't do in your industry. all industries resent their regulators that has been true since the beginning of industry. but in the case of the gun manufacturer's lobby, they have
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gotten their wish. they would please like the part of the government that is responsible for regulating the health and safety of their products to disappear. and through the magic of the conservative movement and the gun lobby and politicians not standing up to that movement's pressure, nobody runs that part of our government anymore, and nobody has for the entire time that barack obama has been president. and nobody did for a good part of the time that george w. bush was president. in 2006, republicans in congress got an amendment added to the reauthorization of the patriot act. it made the director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives a senate confirmable position. and then guess who the senate confirmed? nobody. not ever, not since at any time. we are a nation with over 300 million guns, and the worst gun violence problem of any industrialized nation on earth by a mile. and the part of our national government that is responsible for responding to that problem and regulating that product has been so successfully demonized
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and attacked and undermined by the gun lobby and the conservative movement that the current interim acting director, because that's all we're ever allowed to have anymore is an interim acting director, the current one is a commuter. he is part-time. he also has another job being the u.s. attorney for the state of minnesota. same thing is true at the end of the bush administration. at this time, the atf's interim acting director was also a commuter. he also had another job as a u.s. attorney in boston. and, you know, why bother having somebody do this job full time? it's like the way people who make keys and people who repair shoes sometimes share a storefront. each one is like half a business. cobbler, key cutter, and ensuring the safe and legal operation of the multibillion gun market in the united states. you can just do that on tuesdays and thursdays, right? maybe you can do that online, check into flex-time. the fact that the gun lobby and the republicans will not allow anybody to be in charge of the agency that regulates firearms in this country is one of the
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ridiculous anomalies about this particular field of policy and governance that the president talked about at his press conference today. he got very specific about this today in a way that he has not done before. >> there is also a growing consensus for us to build from. a majority of americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. a majority of americans support banning the sale of high capacity ammunition clips. a majority of americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won't take the responsibility of doing a background check at all. i urge the new congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner. in considering congress hasn't confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, the agency that works most closely with state and local law
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enforcement to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, i'd suggest that they make this a priority early in the year. if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in newtown. or any of the lesser known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across america every day. >> the president today getting pretty specific about what kind of reform he is aiming for. he also explained his plan for how to get there, which is also a pretty specific plan. >> the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. the fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence. that's why i've asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete
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proposals no later than january, proposals that i then intend to push without delay. this is not some washington commission. this is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. this is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. i asked joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994 crime bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in this country. that plan -- that bill also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former presidents, including ronald reagan. >> the president setting a deadline that is just weeks from now, not months from now, but weeks from now for when he wants specific proposals for reform. he said real reform right now.
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that tight timeline ensures that this is going to stay at the top of the agenda in this moment where the public is clamoring for change. also, putting the vice president specifically in charge of it ensures that it is going to remain a high profile executive effort. vice president biden also what a substantive record on this issue. not only did he write the 1994 bill that included the assault weapons ban, he spent years shepherding it through congress, meeting and negotiating with republicans, making the kind of compromises that helped win support for the bill without gutting it. so in putting vice president biden in charge of working for reform on this issue, the president has picked a guy who has a record of getting exactly this kind of reform done in congress. but i think it's also important here that when the president today invoked vice president's work on the assault weapons ban in 1994, he also name-dropped
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somebody who was another really key player in that fight, and that is former president ronald reagan. by 1994, ronald reagan was not frequently participating in politics, right. but that year he intervened personally to get crucial republican votes for the assault weapons ban in 1994. now today there is no president reagan anymore. it is not clear in republican politics who could play the role of a president reagan on an issue like this to move republicans to supporting it. but vice president biden is going to need some republicans. and he is going to need some republican leadership in order to get this done. in 1994 that. >> needed president reagan's help even when they had a democratic house and a democratic senate and a democratic president. this time the democrats do not have the house. is there any hope that there will be republicans who will help make this possible? if there is no republican help like there has been on so many other issues in the obama administration, if there is no republican help at all, if they totally blank him on this, then nothing can happen through congress, and that makes ate much shorter list of reforms that can be done. speaking realistically, what is possible here? not just what is desirable, but what is possible?
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with this big presidential commitment to this issue today, what really might get done? joining us now is senator barbara boxer of california. senator boxer, thank you very much for being here. it's nice to have you here. >> thanks. >> president obama said this will not be just another washington commission whose ideas get pushed aside after months of study. what do you think is possible to achieve? >> first of all, i want to say that joe biden is a no-nonsense person who i had the privilege of working with the author of the violence against women act. he is as you said shepherded it through, senator feinstein's bill that banned the assault weapons. he created the cops program which we together worked to make sure that there were some grants to make schools safer through that cops program. so he is giving the job to a can-do person who is well loved in the senate and in the house.
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and i think this signals that this issue, as you say is going to be front and center. >> senator feinstein has been very overt about the idea that this is more doable than people think it is. obviously, there had been an attempt on an assault weapons ban, shepherded by then senator biden before senator feinstein was successful with her bill in 1994. do you feel like there are lessons learned about how to get these things done, how to find some common ground, how to find some republicans that will express not just support for this idea, but will actually go there when it's time to vote? >> well, rachel, one of the intriguing things about the vote on the feinstein amendment was it was not filibustered. she reminded me the other day that carol moseley-braun was running late, and we held our breath and carol came in and voted aye. one thing i would hope is we wouldn't have to face a filibuster.
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we've got to keep in our minds what just happened in connecticut. we've got to keep those children in our minds. and it touched the hearts of everybody. and i think if we do that and we forget about our political skins for five seconds, we can get something done. and with joe doing his work and senator feinstein and others like senator lautenberg working on high capacity clips, i'm working on school safety, chuck schumer is working on mental health help we have a very good team of people working on all these issues. and it should happen. >> when you talk about what we need to put aside in order to make this progress, i know that you tonight were one of the senators who attended this big bipartisan screening for the senate of the movie "lincoln." i just -- a, i liked the movie. but b, i liked that you all went together, that it was democrats and republicans in the senate going together to find some common ground. i sort of think of it as a movie club or a book club for you. i wonder, a, how it went, and b,
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if that made you feel any differently than you might have before about whether democrats and republicans can move forward together? >> i'm really happy that you asked the question, because when i stood up to ask a question of a couple of the people on the panel who were pretty fabulous, like daniel day lewis and doris kerns goodwin and steven spielberg and tony kushner, and it was really quite a panel. the first thing i said was how great it was to see bipartisanship here. but let me tell you what -- i think you know how great the movie is. i've now seen it twice. it's better the second time. but it shows you that government can do important, good things for the cause of human dignity. and that it takes work and it is hard. it takes focus. and presidential leadership. and you have to think about the good of the country. and it shows that government can be a force of good. and, of course, you know, in my work sometimes it's so exhilarating and sometimes it's so frustrating. and you get -- you just throw up your hands. but we can do it.
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if lincoln could do what he did, which was an amazing feat to outlaw slavery when everything, all the cards were stacked against him, as a matter of fact, i think it was tony kushner who said tonight we had the fiscal cliff. there it was the 13th amendment cliff. no one knew whether it would pass until the actual votes were taken. so we're faced with these things, and we really do have to work together as hard as it is. and sometimes it's hard. >> senator barbara boxer of california, thank you for your time tonight. i'm sure this is the last thing you wanted to do after seeing that film and being in that environment. i really appreciate you taking the time. >> no, i'm delighted. thank you. >> thank you. there is one gun control measure that does not require the federal government to do anything. it requires a little bit of money and some volunteers, and a little bit of planning. and everybody ends up really happy at the end of it, even the people who usually complain about everything. and it's already happening. some dramatic pictures from one sudden trend in this field that is not at all a bummer.
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that's coming up. [ male announcer ] this single scoop of gain gives more freshness than a whole box of this other stuff... and that much freshness is gonna take some getting used to... [ sniffing ] yep. it's amazing what a single scoop of gain freshness can do.
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ready for a story that is not a bummer? this is not a bummer. here is how it works. you bring in a firearm, any kind of gun, rifle, handgun, semiautomatic weapon, it doesn't even have to work properly. it could be broken for all they care. but you just bring it in and you hand it over. you give it up. and in exchange, you get money, or gift cards.
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sometimes you get money and a gift card. and it's no questions asked. it's called a gun buyback. and it happens all the time all over the country. in camden county, new jersey this weekend, look at this. look at this! residents traded in their guns for cash. they traded in 1,137 firearms in camden county, new jersey over two days. that was a record, the most successful gun buyback in the state's history. people could trade in up to three guns per person. payment was done on a sliding scale depending on the gun, with the most dangerous weapons garnering $250 each. the money for that particular buyback came from the attorney general's office in new jersey. also this weekend across the country, in oakland and san francisco, the same scene. a record-breaking gun buyback. almost 600 guns taken off the streets. each gun exchanged for $200. people waited in long and cold lines for hours for the chance to make that exchange in oakland and san francisco. the guns the city has collected will be cross referenced with a database to make sure they were not used in any crime.
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and then those guns will be melted down and turned into less deadly things like park benches and signposts. i bet if anybody needed plowshares, they could make those too. those weapons in california were collected by the police, but the buyback part was funded by nonprofit groups, including $100,000 donation from a guy who runs a medical marijuana dispensary. and apparently that's a good way to make a lot of money. in brooklyn, new york, this weekend, people went to trade guns for debit cards at two different locations. the program was run by the police and the brooklyn district attorney's office. more than 130 guns were turned in in exchange for up to $200 a gun. in evanston, illinois, north of chicago, there was a gun buyback program this weekend at a church organize bade community activist whose son was shot and killed in evanston last month. the police collected 26 handguns, 15 rifles, four shotguns. in baltimore, maryland, at the city college high school, officers collected firearms, more than 450 firearms in exchange for $100 gift cards from a legal grocery store.
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in a press release about the event, the grocery store said, quote, no gun dealers, please. on mother's day in los angeles, a gun buyback program there. look at this, took in 1600 weapons, including an assault rifle with a 50-round clip and a silencer. somebody even turned in a rocket launcher. that program is run by the city's gang reduction unit. detroit, michigan, has seen a bunch of these buybacks, including one last august, where more than 700 guns were turned in at one location in just six hours on just one day. the most interesting question to come out of the president's press conference today is what exactly will happen at the federal level on the reform of gun laws. the president said there would be firm proposals from his administration in a matter of weeks. real reforms right now, he said. but whether or not there is specific and consequential action at the federal level to reduce gun violence, honestly, specific and consequential
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action can happen in any town, any time. with almost no notice and very, very little planning. that's what these gun buyback programs show. they can be held in small towns and big cities. they can happen in parking lots or in churches or in grocery stores. the money can come from a local government or it can come from you. it won't solve every problem. it will not prevent every crime. it will not prevent every tragedy related to gun violence. no one thing will. but community-run buybacks hurt no one. they are voluntary. anyone can do them. they can get guns out of the streets and out of the places they are not wanted. the end results of the programs like this are honestly relief and gratitude for the opportunity on all sides. how many things are true of that on any policy issue in this country? this seems like a place to start. [ male announcer ] this is bob, a regular guy with an irregular heartbeat. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, a condition that puts him at greater risk for a stroke. [ gps ] turn left.
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here is a weird detail about campaign logistics. when they are in full campaign mode, presidential candidates scramble from event to event very quickly, sometimes three or four or five in one day. of course, they don't travel alone. they haul their aides and their entourages along, and they also take with them the reporters covering their campaigns. the way it works traditionally is many campaign reporters are transported around by the candidate because the schedule is so intense and so fluid, that that can basically make it impossible for news outlets to arrange for their own reporters' travel and logistics independent of the campaign. so the campaigns end up taking a bunch of reporters with them everywhere they go. they sort of take responsibility for their press pool.
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and that means they even feed the reporters and put them up in hotels. it's like a big carpool, if all the kids in the carpool were trying to catch the driver of the carpool saying something really embarrassing all the time. but even though the campaign takes responsibility for arranging the room and board and travel of the reporters who are covering their candidate, that doesn't mean that the campaign pays for those things for the reporters that would be weird, right? that would be a strange relationship between the coverers and the coverees. so to avoid that ethics weirdness, the arrangement they make is this. news organizations promise in advance that they will pay the costs of their reporters' food and travel once the whole campaign is finished. the campaigns promise to charge reasonable prices for those things. they promise the charges will be tallied up after the campaign, and the news outfits promise to pay. it's not an official rule or anything, but that's the way it works. that is the way it has traditionally worked, until this year. buzzfeed was first to report this year a bunch of news outlets are taking the unprecedented step of contesting the charges from the mitt romney campaign. because they say the charges are
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crazy expensive. like crazy, crazy expensive. a bunch of major newspapers, including "the l.a. times," "the wall street journal," "the new york times," and the "washington post," as well as websites like buzzfeed and yahoo have now sent letters to the romney for president campaign, protesting price gouging of the reporters. and from the details that they list, it kind of seems like they have a point. quoting from the letter, we've dealt with numerous campaigns over the past decades, and understand that we pay a premium to travel with a candidate. but recent invoices from your campaign have raised serious questions about the charges you have forwarded to us for travel with mitt romney. for example, $745 per person for a vice presidential debate viewing party. the price for one meal and a hold on october 18th, $812. a hold is just a space where the press waits after one event before leaving for another event. on the very next day, the price for a meal was $461. on october 30th, the miss for food and a hold was $345.
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quote, these costs far exceed typical expenses on the campaign trail. also, it was clear to all present that the campaign's paid staff frequently consumed the food and drinks ostensibly produced for the media. were any of the costs of these events charged to the campaign itself to cover the care and feeding of its staff. in the romney campaign, the campaign of one of the richest men ever to run for president charged reporters $812 for a meal. we do not know at this time exactly what that $812 meal consisted of. i hope it was this. for the record, this is a hamburg were a diamond on it. we actually searched various new york city restaurants today, looking for the most expensive meals we could find, and we could not find an $812 per person meal. so this is our best estimation, the closest we could get. hamburg were diamond. until these loose ends get tied up, the mitt romney for
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president campaign cannot become the historical curiosity it is now destined to become. there are still some material consequences of that campaign that have to be sorted out, mostly with american express. but in today's news, there was another major story that made clear in the starkest possible terms just how important that romney campaign was. and what a different country we would be already if the result of that elect had gone in the other direction. that is coming up at the close of tonight's show. it is a big story. it's coming up.
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if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. >> does this mean we get susan rice back? i know, i know, it's a done deal.
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we are told that the president is picking john kerry to be secretary of state after hillary clinton. but if this was supposedly the reason that susan rice could not be considered for that job as well, this is out now, and it says in a fair world, we would get susan rice back in contention. this is the report of the independent accountability review board that was authorized by law as part of the response to the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, the attack that killed a serving u.s. ambassador for the first time since the 1970s. ambassador chris stevens and three other americans were killed in an armed assault by a militant group on a u.s. facility that was in an area known for its armed militant groups. the attack was concurrent with worldwide protests at u.s. facilities throughout the muslim world against a cartoonish anti-islam video that had been posted on youtube.
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the report, which was chaired by long-time diplomat thomas pickering and former chairman of the joint chiefs admiral mike mullen placed blame on the u.s. for being unable to foresee that attack and being unable to protect against that attack squarely on the u.s. state department. and so somebody totally unrelated to that expect be secretary of state now? i don't understand. republican senators after the election decided that the person they wanted to attack for benghazi was somebody who had nothing to do with that attack, nothing to do with embassy security, diplomatic security, not even somebody who works at the state department. but she was somebody who the president was considering nominating for secretary of state. she was the u.n. ambassador. well, susan rice last week withdraw her name from consideration for the secretary of state job because of republican senators' unrelenting criticism of her on the basis of benghazi. today the long-awaited accountability report on that attack reiterates that she had no role, no responsibility for what went wrong there whatsoever. because of who the report did find responsible, three state department officials did resign today, including the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and two deputy assistant secretaries responsible for that region of the world and for embassy
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security specifically. the top dog at the department, secretary clinton says she is accepting all of the review board's recommendations, even the classified ones that we don't get to hear about. she said the state department is requesting that congress transfer more than $1.3 billion out of a contingency fund for iraq at bolstering security at u.s. embassies worldwide. that will include funding for a thousand more u.s. marines to be distributed to u.s. embassies around the globe. a thousand, that's a lot. and it is likely to be all but permanent. joining me now is andrea mitchell, nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent. thank you for joining us. secretary clinton has been out sick recovering, but we're hearing she may testify next month. two of her top deputies are expected to testify tomorrow. what do you expect will happen with all of that? >> it's unclear that she may not be able to testify because congress may not be in session next month, although they are pressing for her.
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particularly bob corker said today not very subtly in fact that he would not be moving ahead on the nomination of her successor expected to be john kerry, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, until they've had a chance to hear from her. she and her staff have simply said to the committee chairs that she needs more time. and in fact tonight we learn that she will not be traveling. that her doctors do not want her to get on an airplane for any extended travel until at least mid-january. so this is a very difficult pace for someone who is used to being nonstop. on benghazi, the hearings will be held tomorrow. i think that certainly on the senate side they will be polite. two top officials, the two top deputies are going to be testifying. but this has been a devastating report there is no way to sugarcoat it. it basically said there is systemic fault in the state department. and it goes all the way back at least until 1998, that the
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improvements that had been ordered in 1998 after the embassy bombings in kenya and tanzania have not been done. and that there are security failures at high-threat posts all over the world. >> andrea, i think about the relationship of the state department to the other giant in the american government in terms of our relations and our outposts around the world. and that of course is the defense department. anybody close to the missions of those two departments talks about how much the state department is dwarfed by the pentagon in budget and in what they're consequently able to do. is this the sort of thing where the state department just isn't capable, hasn't been resourced enough, and doesn't have the skill and the ability to take care of its outposts abroad in a dangerous world? >> well, they need security. and the marines are there at major embassies, but not at these kinds of outposts. benghazi wasn't even a consulate, really. it was a mission. and then what we later learned was a very large -- relatively large cia annex that wasn't very
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far from that post. so there was a very small footprint. they relied on the local militia. and they should have been aware. gross mismanagement, grossly understaffed, those are tough words from this report by two top very highly regarded officials, mike mullen and top pickering. so they were relying on local militia. the security videos that were shown to the senate committees last week and the house committees indicated that those militia, those libyans ran, they jumped into a pickup truck at the very first sign of trouble and just took off and drove away. so there was no real security, just a handful. and they were completely overwhelmed. so there is bad intelligence, bad planning. they had requested, including ambassador stevens requesting better security. but the post did not demand it. and also, congress, several of
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them were honest, including corker and a couple of the other members today in the senate and the house were acknowledging they also are at fault, because they did not properly fund the state department. and it really is a crisis here. either they have to put a lot more money in and put real guns there, and not rely on the host countries in these countries after the arab spring where you don't have -- let's face it, a dictator, a totalitarian leader like mubarak or pull back from posts. and no one wants that to happen. that's a very big dilemma. look, after we pulled our combat troops out of iraq, the state department was left in iraq holding the bag. and completely unequipped to deal with that. >> a dilemma, as you say, and a crisis at a time when the state department is already an incredibly delicate political position. . this is fascinating and important stuff. andrea mitchell, nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent. it's an honor to have you with us. the bad news is we made a mistake on the show. the good news is the correction involves a hilarious celebrity video. we never have reasons to play celebrity videos. tonight we have a legit reason to do it, and that is coming up.
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there are certain things that happen in american politics and in american law that even though they happen relatively recently, even though they happen within the last generation, you still kind of can't believe they really happened at all. >> it was the kind of day that even bork described as difficult. he had to defend an opinion he wrote involving women workers at
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a west virginia chemical plant in which he upheld a policy requiring the women, whose future unborn children might be harmed by the chemicals to be sterilized or quit. five women underwent sterilization to keep their jobs. >> judge, i must tell you that it is such a shocking decision, and i can't understand how you as a jurist could put women to the choice of work or be sterilized. >> some chose sterilization. some did not. the fact is if they had not offered that choice, these women would have been put in lower paying jobs or would have been discharged. they offered a choice to the women. some of them, i guess, didn't want to have children. >> i cannot tell you strongly enough that the women of this country are terribly, terribly apprehensive about your appointment. yesterday you said women and blacks who know your record on the court need not fear you.
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but the fact is, judge bork, they do fear you. they're concerned. they're frightened. and it's only fair to say that you've made it quite clear in your appearance before this panel that you're not a frightening man, but you are a man with frightening views. >> i have never said anything or decided anything that should be frightening to women. you're undoubtedly correct, senator, that there are women who are apprehensive. i think it can only be because they don't know my record. >> later in the afternoon, one of the west virginia women who was 26 when she was sterilized sent a telegram to the senators calling it the most awful thing that ever happened to her. >> that really happened here. a federal judge upholding a corporation's right to fire employees if they do not submit to being sterilized. that happened, and not all that long ago. but wait, here is another one.
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this one is from politics. and again you kind of can't believe that it happened. what was going on at the time is a special prosecutor was investigating the white house. and when the prosecutor ordered the white house to turn over some evidence for the investigation, the president told his attorney general to fire the prosecutor and his whole staff. the attorney general said no and then quit. so then the president called the attorney general's deputy and said you fire the deputy. and the deputy said no. and then he got fired by the president. the president had to keep going down the chain of command until he got to the third guy that he asked, and then that guy was happy to do it. that guy fired the special prosecutor and had the fbi come in and seal off the prosecutor's office, because the president did not want to be investigated. for something it turns out he really did do and he got caught for. that is not a movie that really happened. >> "the tonight show" will not be seen tonight so that we may bring you the following nbc news special report. >> good evening. the country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. the attorney general has
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resigned. elliott richardson, who was appointed attorney general only last may in the wake of the watergate scandal, says he cannot carry out the president's orders. ruckelshaus has been in a constitutional drama. the president has abolished cox's office and duties and turned the special prosecutor watergate crimes over to the justice department, which is headed by robert h. bork who has held his office only since last june. bork issued a statement saying his firing of the special watergate prosecutor, all i will say is i carried out the president's directive. that is a stunning directive, and nothing even remotely like our history. >> and when these not quite believable things have happened in the field of law, they frequently involved a man named robert bork, judge robert bork
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died today at the age of 85. after he said the companies had a right to sterilize the female employees or fire them. after he says that segregation had the right to stay legal, after all of that, maybe the most amazing thing about robert bork's career, on the basis of that career, he was nominated to be a supreme court justice. >> bork again stuck by his position that the constitution does not bar the government from regulating personal marital right. >> it may well, i have seen arguments to that effect, but i have never investigated that.
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>> well, as i said earlier, judge, we're going to see a lot of things start to come up in the law we're going to have to face that relate to marital right to privacy. just the way technology is changing. and we're going to have everything from legislation, i predict to you, in the next 20 years, i predict on everything from test-tube babies to cloning. >> oh, i think we are, i don't know what the answer is because i have never thought about it. >> i think the constitution is more expansive latitude. >> it was not clear before those confirmation hearings who was going to win that fight, which way it was going to go. in the end, 58 senators voted no on robert bork, the highest votes cast against a supreme
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court nominee, after being denied a seat, robert bork went on to become a conservative hero, mostly on the heels of how badly his push to become a supreme court justice failed. he became a full-time celebrity author and became the american rights north star for what a judge or potential judge should be like. as i said, judge bork has died today at the age of 85. and he is being celebrated on the political right that came to celebrate him almost as a hero, to worship him, politically. for the rest of the country, judge bork's legacy stands as a reminder of what might have been. he was named the top judicial adviser to republican presidential candidate mitt romney, had the election gone the other way, judge bork would have advised mitt romney about who should be appointed to the supreme court by president romney. that did not happen because of this election. america lost a judge today, the
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right lost one of their heroes, and the rest of america lost a vivid reminder of just how much elections have consequences. >> if we have nations that are not as advanced that can guarantee health care to their progressive insurance. you know, from our 4,000 television commercials. yep, there i am with flo. hoo-hoo! watch it! [chuckles] anyhoo, 3 million people switched to me last year, saving an average of $475. [sigh] it feels good to help people save... with great discounts like safe driver, multicar, and multipolicy. so call me today. you'll be glad you did. cannonbox! [splash!]
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or treat gas with these after you get it. now that's like sunblock before or sun burn cream later. oh, somebody out there's saying, now i get it! take beano before and there'll be no gas. >> if we have nations that are not as advanced that can okay, department of corrections, i made an error on last night's show. i had no idea i made this error because i apparently am now an old person. the less aged members of the rachel maddow show, pat, were mortified when i said this, but i had no idea it was wrong, listen. >> the new song on the latest album out by keysha, the part that is correct there is the song being new and off the latest album and it being the number three song in the country on the radio. i was talking about the song being pulled now from the radio in the wake of what happened now, in newtown. but an important part of last night's show, i got wrong.
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>> the new song out, apparently the number three song in the country on radio. >> apparently what i got now is the name of the person whose song it is, i got the name wrong from an incredibly popular singer, i would like a correction, from somebody who makes me less clueless and dottering. >> my name is not keysha, no, be it is not cashew. it is not catchup. it is not lakeysha, keyshondra, none of those things, it is not keysha cole, it is kesha, with a dollar sign.

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